After getting blown out in Minnesota Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs rebounded with a road win over the Dallas Mavericks 109-100. Patty Mills (26 points), Kawhi Leonard (16 points, 16 rebounds), and Tim Duncan (20 points, 15 rebounds) led six players in double-figures, as the Spurs used their perimeter shooting to earn a franchise record 30 road wins, while also sweeping the Mavericks in the regular season along the way. Here were a few keys to the Spurs’ 61stvictory of the season.
Mills gets the start and takes advantage
Tony Parker missed his second straight game due to a back injury, and usually Cory Joseph starts in his place, and Mills comes off the bench. However, for only the second time this season, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to start Mills and Mills made the most of the extended minutes (35:59). Mills led the Spurs with 26 points, six assists, and two steals. But what really allowed Mills to have an impact on the game, was how he pushed the pace and was able to use his speed to get himself free off screens or in spacing to make 6-of-11 three pointers in the win. 16 of the Mills’ shots were charted as uncontested in the win, and he made eight of those attempts. The Mavericks’ defense had little success in staying with Mills in the open court or switches on the pick-and-roll. Check out Mills’ shots chart from beyond the arc.
Leonard sets career high in rebounding
Though he didn’t have the best shooting night (16 points on 5-of-14 shooting), Leonard continued to make his mark on the game by creating havoc on the defensive end with two steals, but also in the paint, where he grabbed a career high 16 rebounds. Of Leonard’s 16 rebounds, six came on the offensive end, and 10 came on the defensive end. The extra possessions where a big part of the win for the Spurs, as San Antonio outscored Dallas 18-9 in second chance points. Leonard also had more responsibility in the offense as he had the third most touches on the team (59), threw the fourth most passes (38), and collected five assists, and one secondary assist. Leonard also had this nifty coast-to-coast highlight where Dirk Nowitzki didn’t dare try to stop him in transition.
Duncan had initial injury scare
With 8:51 minutes left in the second quarter, a silence fell upon the Spurs’ bench. Duncan has tried to grab a defensive rebound and came down awkwardly on his right knee. He immediately fell to the floor and began to hold the knee. When Popovich called timeout, Duncan got up and was trying to stretch the knee out. Then, he and trainer Will Sevening would go to the locker room to have it examined. The Spurs found a sigh of relief as Duncan came back to the bench minutes later, and was able to check back into the game at the 4:56 mark in the second quarter.
After the injury scare, Duncan went on to finish the game playing 39:17 minutes, as he finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds, had one steal, and one block. As he’s been able to do this season, Duncan continued to have success against the Mavericks’ front court in the paint. In four games against the Mavericks this season, Duncan is averaging 18.5 points on 51% shooting, grabbing 12.5 rebounds, and blocking 1.8 shots per contest.
The Machine got going from the perimeter, while the defense was stable
Though their overall shooting percentage was only 43%, the Spurs created huge separation with their outside shooting, as the team connected on 16 of their 34 three point attempts (47%). Ball movement and the Spurs’ play in transition was key for the Spurs’ 34 three point attempts. The team finished with 22 assists and eight secondary assists, and per Synergy, the Spurs connected on 7-of-9 of their 3-pointers in transition. Ball movement data matched the eye test and 55% of the Spurs’ shots were uncontested on the evening, and they shot 49% on those 51 uncontested looks. Outside of the second quarter, the Spurs also had their machine-like offense running with just 13 turnovers in the game. The Spurs’ transition play was a major part of the win, as they outscored the Mavericks 35-19, with Dallas only turning over the ball 10 times. It was the Spurs’ relentless pace that allowed them to get out and run after each defensive rebound.
Danny Green was a huge part in the Spurs’ outside shooting as he connected on 5-of-9 three pointers for 15 points. Tiago Splitter scored 12 points in the win, while Manu Ginobili came off the short bench with 10 points.
On the defensive end, the Spurs created separation from the Mavericks in the first and third quarter, as the Spurs held Dallas to less than 23 points in both quarters. Whether it was Leonard or Boris Diaw defending Nowitzki, Nowitzki had 71% of his looks contested, and he only took 14 shots for 19 points. On defending the Mavericks’ other key player, Monta Ellis, the Spurs’ defense contested 59% of Ellis’ shots, and he needed 22 shots for 24 points. As a team, the Spurs’ defense contested 67% of the Mavericks’ shots.
Do the Spurs have the Mavericks’ number this season?
There’s a possibility these two teams could meet in two weeks, when the playoffs roll around as a potential 1-8 matchup or 2-7 scenario. Based on the season data, the Spurs swept the Mavericks 4-0 on the season and won each game by 11.5 points per contest.
Will Popovich rest anyone on Friday vs. the Suns?
With a chance to lockup the Western Conference on Friday in a back-to-back, as they’ll host the Phoenix Suns, there’s still a strong chance Popovich could rest some players for the Spurs on Friday. The status of Parker’s return is still unknown, and here were the minute’s and miles ran of the Spurs’ core players.
Duncan (39:17 minutes, 2.6 miles), Leonard (36:57 minutes, 2.7 miles), Mills (35:39 minutes, 2.9 miles), Ginobili (28: 37 minutes, 1.9 miles), Splitter (28:06 minutes, 2.0 miles), Green (22:23 minutes, 1.7 miles), Marco Belinelli (20:09 minutes, 1.5miles), Diaw (19:32 minutes, 1.4 miles)
One win from clinching the Western Conference in the Regular Season
With three regular season games remaining, the Spurs are holding onto the best record in the NBA at 61-18 and are either a victory away, or Oklahoma City Thunder loss, from clinching home court throughout the NBA playoffs. The Thunder sit at 57-21 with four games remaining against the New Orleans Pelicans (Friday), Indiana Pacers (Sunday), Pelicans (Monday), and Detroit Pistons (Wednesday). The Spurs have the Suns (Friday), Houston Rockets (Monday), and Los Angeles Lakers (Wednesday) still to play this season.
Where San Antonio Stands
- Regular Season: 61-18 (Lead the NBA)
- Road Record: 30-10 (NEW FRANCHISE RECORD)
- Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 30-16
- Vs. The Western Conference: 37-12
- Post All-Star Break Record: 23-3
- The Spurs are 24-0 when Tiago Splitter scores in double-figures, and 33-0 when Splitter scores 7 or more points.
(All Stats and player tracking data via NBA.com/stats)